BATCAVERNA - ITBILLY
Batcaverna - ‘Itbilly’
Released 11th May 2022
Reviewed by Kate, 17th August 2022
Massimo Tolomeo - drums
Matteo ‘John Score’ - guitar / vocals
Daniele Antolini - bass
Straight out of Rome’s most rockin’ bars, ‘Itbilly’ is the followup to Batcaverna’s debut album ‘Raveabilly’ and has a definite early sixties, atomic-era sound that feels far more Vegas than Rome. Upbeat tones and teen-idol vocals make Batcaverna the perfect soundtrack to a night of cocktails or getting ready to heading to a dance where tall hair is definitely required. Batcaverna describe themselves as ‘Irreverent, funny, poetic and zany, [and a blend of] punk, rockabilly, electronic, trash blues’, and while their lyrics are totally lost on me as my Italian is limited to ordering beer, you get a sense that these are good time guys having fun with their sound.
So, what does ‘Itbilly’ have in store for us?
Autostop (‘Hitchhiking’): It’s laid-back with a little bit of an edge to the guitar, like someone driving along a country road at their own speed but still keeping one eye out for traffic. Matteo’s vocals have a dream-like quality to them, and the tinkling piano in the background gives a nice honky-tonk feeling to this track.
Rhum e Coca (‘Rum and Coke’): This song is a little darker, which plays really well against the previous track. The guitar riff is catchy, and the piano comes more to the front on this one. If the last song gives you visions of a country road, then this song is definitely channeling a dive bar!
Io no (‘I don’t’): A really swinging track with the title repeated in the chorus, and this track is where we really get why the band describe themselves as poetic since the vocals switch to a more intense tempo. It’s a shoulder-shaking, hip-swinging little belter of a tune.
Portarcane (‘Bring us some’): And now we get some garage rock creeping it’s way into this record! If you imagine a lighter MC5 track, or a Hives song with some of the edges sanded down by the sweeter piano elements, then you’re you’re imagining Portarcane.
Schiuma da Barbie (‘Barbie Foam’): This song was a single in 2020 and released on Batcaverne’s first record, Raveabilly. In fact, the second half of Itbilly after Bat-Pino is a re-release of some Raveabilly tracks. This gives us a nice sample of where Batcaverne are at now compared to where they were in 2020. The vocals on this song come courtesy of Daniele Coccia Paifelman, frontman of Il Muro del Canto, Rome’s favourite folk-punk rabble-rousers. The folk influence here is obvious through the nautical riffs, and Daniele’s gravely voice undercuts and harmonises with Matteo’s to give this song an edge that isn’t present in the rest of the album. It’s a refreshing break that showcases Batcaverna’s capabilities and depth.
Cannelone: Yes, this song is named after the pasta dish, but who cares when the tempo and intensity of Batcaverna’s sound have been taken up a notch to give us a song that’s going to get everyone jumping? Cannelone feels very short compared to the rest of the album, but this might be because it’s so much fun and jumps into you like an energy shot.
Bat-Pino: Another single, this time from 2021 to announce that this album was on it’s way. There’s a sixties beat to this one with some electronica slinking in, and it would work so well as a movie theme or the backdrop to a chase sequence in a vintage movie with it’s short bursts of clear intensity.
I Need to Find: The start of the Raveabilly half of this record is the first track from the band’s last album, and it’s in English. We are so firmly in Garage rock territory here and there’s this lovely retro reverb on the vocals to give this one an underground, stripped-down vibe.
Together Love: Another song in English, and it’s as creepy as the title would suggest. I’m impressed again with how much Batcaverna are capable of as we’ve veered into Psychobilly here. Matteo’s vocals are reminiscent of Jesse Hughes as he declares his unending love for the object of his affections. This is probably my favourite song on the record!
Shut Up: It’s moody, it’s bass-driven and it’s got this minimal, demo, street vibe. Putting some of the band’s earlier releases in with this album seems at this point to have been a genius move as we’ve got a sense of progress and evolution with Batcaverna’s sound.
Mamasaid: Throwing this very simplistic number in at the end seems to make a lovely epilogue to this record. We’re back to Italian vocals and motoring guitar, and I’d love it if Batcaverna made an entire record in this style!
‘Itbilly’ is a really decent sampler of where this band are at now, where they’ve been and how their sound is evolving. Batcaverna have a really distinct character to their songs and seem to have one to suit any mood. Fingers crossed we get another lovely swerving, catchy release soon!